Canadian PM Thwarts Party Revolt Over Gay Marriage by Ben Thompson 365Gay.com Ottawa Bureau Posted: June 7, 2005 5:00 pm ET (Ottawa) Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has stared down a revolt by a small group of Liberal Members of Parliament who threatened to vote against the government's budget and plunge the country into an election. The group, nearly a dozen strong, opposes the government's same-sex marriage bill. Emboldened by Monday's decision by another Liberal MP opposed to the bill, Pat O'Brien, to quit the party and sit as an Independent (story) the group demanded a meeting with Martin. Behind closed doors, the group allegedly threatened that if Martin did not make significant changes to the bill, they could vote with the opposition with the budget comes up for a final vote. That could be enough to defeat the measure. In the parliamentary system a defeat of a budget is considered a lack of confidence in the government and forces an election. Among proposed amendments, opponents would like stronger guarantees that churches do not have to marry same-sex couples, and that justices of the peace cannot be forced to perform civil marriages against their religious principles. Martin listened to the group's concerns about the marriage bill, but refused to make any changes or delay it. The government has said it intends to have the legislation passed before the house rises for the summer. Martin already has said that all Liberal MPs except for cabinet ministers will have a free vote on the marriage bill. One government source says that following the meeting party officials told the group that anyone who votes against the budget to topple the government would not receive party endorsement in the next election. Since the opposition Conservatives have already chosen their slate of candidates for the next election, it would mean Liberal dissidents would have to run as independents - a move seen as a likely defeat for them at the polls. Paul Szabo (L-Mississagua) one of those who attended the meeting said he would not vote against the budget. "How does this advance the issue" he asked. Szabo said he expected the other gay marriage foes will also support the budget.